tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 21, 2014 9:00am-9:31am EDT
the sort of pillars of support on whose obedience the authoritarian relies to maintain power. so the more people are involve ised, the more likely there is to be an opportunity the to sort of leverage those internal relationships in society. it's really -- >> the clerk will read a communication to the senate.
campaigns that already developed significant following. we're only looking at campaigns with at least 1000 observed participants. they're not small demonstration in the street that doesn't come to anything. they have already matured to a certain point. the non-violent ones still are twice as effective. one recent blip on the radar since 2010 the success of both non-violent and violent campaigns gone down. vie len campaign success is way less than 10%. almost never happening whereas non-violent campaign success has gone down 15 percentage points. this is why i was interested in talking about the return of thor tehran yes, i am. what you call authoritarian upgrading. this sweep of non-violent challenges the made way authoritarian leaders oppress a
bit smarter. doing the kinetic coercion with yanukovych doesn't really payings they do thing, this the narrative is a this is a western conspiracy and try to mobilize the nationalist sentiment using those type of narratives. that political dissidents are terrorists whether using violence or not. they don't distinguish if they're threatening our political system, they must be terrorists. they tend to try to divide and rule the opposition and with fears of sectarian tensions. they tend to counter mobilize their own groups of people they see as supporters even if they pay them, they bring their own people out into the streets and they will do the street fighting. the fifth thing with modern technology it is much easier to engauge in surveillance. that undermined any of the technological advantages that social media gave to activisms. >> you're saying that your theory even works on the
oppressor side of the divide? even authoritarians are doing better with non-violent methods? >> well i think the most authoritarians will use these types of methods to try to divide and rule the opposition. once they get them plenty divided there is plenty ever violence they use against them. but at that point the legitimacy of the opposition has been undermined to the extent it doesn't produce the same level of backfire it might if opposition was united. >> you would agree with the overall proposition, one reads it everywhere these days, that authoritarian system somewhat on the rise then due to, how to put it, more sophisticated methods? >> i don't think it is on the rise in terms of raw numbers. we still have way more democracies than thor sarin regions. there are not new authoritarian regimes that there haven't been before but the authoritarian region games are more durable
than they have been in a long time. i don't think this is permanent men trend. i think what happens anytime we get some type of new knowledge like this the other side gets a chance to game it as my friend was saying last night. so i think, basically we have a situation where there is always going to be a strategic interaction but historical records reveal to us that when people rely on non-violent methods that allow for large degrees of popular inclusion, that undermine narrative that they're terrorists, locally legitimate and in a way undermines the rhetoric that they're foreign inspired and foreign promoted really increases their chances any method the government uses to try to repress them will backfire. >> i see of the so you're not pessimistic about democracy. >> no. i think i'm a little bit pessimistic about the ways we've developed to counter authoritarianism.
i think authoritarians done a pretty good job protecting themselves through the years and think more creatively about tools at our disposal. maybe non-traditional tools. maybe we do more to the step out of the way of people power movements but engage in with government to buy them time to see share own course through. >> i should mention that erica teaches half of the student body at korbel school, chained to various desks. i worry about the human rights of it all but, crunching data like you count believe. so i must say, erica, you've done frankly so much for our students to understand the empirical nature of some of these issues and the fact that one can go into very non-empirical subjects with very empirical means and come up with very sensible and conclusion that is i think really allow one
to understand these phenomena. let me ask you one more. what should the u.s. do about all this? should we have more people on television talking about it? what can we do as a country? >> well, especially when i look at the recent failures of civil resistance campaigns or ones sort of devolved into violence recently i think of four different things the u.s. might try. one is to step up our attempts to mitigate repression or the way that is other governments acquire the means to continue repressing their own populations. the second thing is to demand when these movements set on, that foreign journalists must be allowed in to observe events. many of these leaders have taken to kicking out foreign journalists immediately once they perceive a threat. that allows them to reinforce their own narrative about what's going on and it deprives people on the ground the opportunity to
be truly witnessed in the court of world opinion. the third thing that u.s. could try doing is developing a civil to coordinate defects. so when there are security force that is want to leave, how could it be made easier for them to do so and how could it be made easier for them to do so without taking their weapons with them setting up shop on a border of the country which they can launched armed attacks. the third thing would be consider freezing aid to countries -- in recent cases we've seen that, even the threat to freeze aid often does provoke those shifts within the loyalties of these pillars of support. so you know, civilian bureaucrats, economic elites, once they get the threat their assets might be frozen they often are actually quite willing to change their loyalties. so coming up with these types of tools which aren't coercive and, in the sense that they don't require a lot of loss of blood
and treasure but instead are actually using the political power that the u.s. might have at its disposal but also not directly supporting the campaigns in way that is would undermined their domestic bases of legitimacy. >> i have one follow-up question. i think what is remarkable about this group here and you will soon hear from thomas and stephanie, the degree which i am peering call data is basis of this. data leading one to conclusions, not simply serving conclusions already reached. erica, you mentioned the possibility of using sanctions. i would like to ask, you think it is possible to put together the kind of database of the kind you've done on this issue of non-violent change, non-violent movements? could you put together a database to determine whether sanctions actually work?
>> in fact it's been done by the international peterson institute for economics which colin hendrix, our own colleague is a fellow there. they have a database on economic sanctions dating back to the early 20th century and we actually, many scholars have assessed the question whether they work and i have to say like stephanie's colleagues the jury is still out on that question. it is very controversial. there are all kinds of reasons why you might imagine that once you have to come to the point of using sanctions the chances they succeed go down because you have already picked very difficult environments which the sanctions are being used. so at that point there might not be a lot of willingness on the part of the target of the sanctions to cooperate. on the other hand we know that sometimes it does increase internal divisions on the regime elites which is really the way people power campaigns end up winning by dividing an ruling
the other side. so in that sense there might be some conducive effects. maria and i actually looked at whether international economic sanctions directed specifically at regimes that were targeting unarmed resistors helped the campaigns. we found they had no effect. could mean they have an effect in some cases and not in others and net effect is zero. what we're doing now is it actually collecting more data on different types of interventions of the targeted sanctions might be more productive than generalized sanctions. my guess this is a very contingent relationship as many things are and more will be revealed on a all that. >> okay. thank you very much, erica. i should mention after we talk to thomas and stephanie, that we'll then have an opportunity for questions that people can pose them and maybe alicia will figure out to make this mic a little more moveable in case people have trouble getting out
of the seats. but, thomas, your experience to me is quite extraordinary. you take a couple of well-known, famous, i would say, economist who is made a certain conclusion about the role of fiscal austerity and you looked at their data and you found there were problems. so why don't you explain to the audience exactly how that happened, what your conclusion was and where do we go from here? i have always worried about when economists talk about something and now you made me completely frightened about it so. [laughing] >> yeah. so thank you very much. like i mentioned earlier the project started as a homework assignment. econometrics course where, you know the assignment was to replicate a major work in the field. that just means reconstruct it from scratch. it is really good for a student.
you have to learn all the new techniques that are at research frontier and things like that. and you know, what surprised me too when i was unable to, you know, reconstruct their extreme results. it is not at all what i expected to find. you know i looked at the results they had and you know, i thought they were a little bit implausible but even given the results they had i thought their interpretation was wrong and that they probably got causality the wrong way. the original plan was actually to very quickly replicate their simple results and then use some of the more modern econometric techniques we have mable available to us to ask questions whether their interpretation was right. i was just unable to get to that spot. throughout the process when i was unable to replicate basic averages it was really, i lost confidence at the very beginning too, i thought, what's wrong?
i thought i would be able to do, but when i first found errors i thought chances i was wrong. these are really well-known study, been cited throughout the media, policymakers here and europe at the highest levels. so i thought i just made a mistake. >> on that point, you should be able to do this with simple homework assignment. >> i would say there was definitely some coverings that i, you know i thought i could do better as well but he was also incredibly supportive at every step of the way. >> you're off the hook, michael. >> i was learning physical techniques when i was doing this michael, he really helped me out every step of the way, suggested new things i should try to try to reconstruct the results. really none of us thought i was right when i first found this. it was only through the process of triple checking your work, making sure there weren't any typos in your statistical script that you wrote to for the
program, all those things. and you know, as you do that you do gain more confidence. you know i did find a couple typos i made but they really didn't change the results. by the end of the semester i think i had convinced the professors and myself that more likely than not i wasn't the one making the mistake. it was only when we got their working spreadsheet we were able to identify a set of problems. one was just a straightforward excel error where they were supposed to average lines 30 to 49 but averaged lines 30 to 44. others were more about how they selected their cases and processed the data. we thought they did things that didn't act ral lit -- accurately represent the central distribution. once we published this it set off a firestorm and it was, it was quite the honor to be able to contribute to that discussion and you know, i learn quite a
bit, kind of seeing the other side of the media and also taught me about the interface between, you know, economic research and the telephone game between like how it is presented in the media or policy circles, et cetera. so it was, i'm quite honored to participate in that process. >> so, thomas, now i assume you got at least a b-plus on the -- that you did well enough on that and you've kind of come out of that, i mean, at some point in your career you're going to be putting on another hat and that is a policy hat. tell us what is the deal with austerity policies? i mean how, how do you look at them now having researched it extensively? >> it was interesting. the austerity policies have a long history. and so there's been a lot of times you can kind of test to see if they worked.
and a lot of the common wisdom in the economics profession you see in basically any macro 101 textbook is that during a recession, you know, cutting the government budget with austerity policies is really damaging. you will contract the economy more than one for one. and, you know, that was one of the reasons why i thought, that the research was kind of implausible at the beginning. i think it was kind of, it helped my confidence to see that basic wisdom, hard-fought wisdom we learned from pulling economy out of the great depression was pretty accurate. i think the profession forgot some of that wisdom. >> but i thought the idea of austerity was a little debunked as far as back hoover administration? >> yeah, certainly. >> so how did it make such a comeback? >> that is interesting question too and it reminds me something
of the a polish economist said. when you see an idea that gets debunked repeatedly over and over, like, for example during the great depression and new deal we went into a double-dip recession because roosevelt tried to balance the budget, okay, we have the initial round of public intervention is doing really good. let's pull back. when they pulled back the economy just collapsed. so you know, that you know, that had been part of that, saw that as pretty good evidence that it was really bad. but i think there is political reasons for it. and i think that has a big part. when you see an idea that keeps coming back and back after the data and the individual case studies and all those things suggest it's wrong there might be more political reasons. there's a lot of opposition to kind of public intervention into the economics sphere. and i think you know, there is very practical things that, you know, the public institutions
can do and really need to do when the private institutions aren't capable of getting out of the recession on their own and i think, you know, we need to be more open-minded. there is also when you're talking about issues of debt too it is kind of difficult. there is a lot of moral language that is just, you know, it is just, immoral to borrow at anytime for any reason but, i think, when you look at the role public borrowing has and conditions under which we would expect it to do good, which happen to be the conditions i think we're experiencing right now, you know, none of us were saying that you should just borrow from here to infiniti forever but it has very important role getting out of the recession and public debt can actually have, one, it can, if the economy has problems with aggregate demand, what that basically means there is not enough spending to buy all goods and services the economy can produce. when that happens, business
won't produce that much output. they will cut back on that and cut back on employment. so in the short term, you know, the public deficit is actually a private surplus and it can close that gap which is important. moreover, one thing we saw coming out of the great depression and world war ii is that it is actually really good for banks to hold public debt on their balance sheets because that cleans them up. much safer of an asset than mortgage-backed securities or anything like that. and that can, so it has, for this particular event coming out of a financial crisis where the financial sector is in shambles this can be an important thing to clean it up. so i think there's a lot of reasons why you would expect it to be very effective right now. and i think the weight of evidence is on that side. however there is likely political reasons, for example, you know, the people who supported austerity policies, they supported them before the reinhardt and rogoff paper and
still support them after that paper has been debunked. you might ask them what their opinions on that is but, you know, i think it's really a telltale sign of more political than technical reasons. >> yeah. so, let me just ask, are we going to turn on cnbc at some point and you're growing to be talking on cnbc or are you going to write some academic books or can i be in airport bookstore or see some paper back about you and your money and low and behold, there you are, thomas? what are you going to do? seems to me you have some real probability possibilities. >> what i'm going to try to do is continue to do honest research that addresses -- >> even if michael were not here you would do that? [laughter] >> i mean, certainly, i mean that's point to do honest research that touches on the central public policy issues of our time.
that is why i became an economist. i thought we could do a lot better. you know, it is kind of an interesting thing too because the slogan coming out. great depression and world war ii was that, unemployment never again, right? they went, the great depression was a period where there was an immense amount of unemployment, like 25%. and it really destroyed the social fabric and caused so much tension but they found out during the war that, wow, with public intervention we could have full employment making, you know, all sorts of armaments, et cetera. but after the war they're like, you know, if we can have full employment by making tanks and bombs and guns, we can certainly have it making schools, parks, hospitals, all the roads, you know. from a technical reason, if you have unemployed people and things that need to be done, they be like, you can, you can do that. and there is unemployed
construction workers and we have potholes in the road, they can go fix them. that is the resources are there to do it. it is very wasteful to not do it. but then again, there might be underlying political reasons why these full employment policies aren't, you know, pursued. you know, not a law of nature that we have to have unemployment. >> yeah. >> it's a failure of our institutions. we can do better. >> yeah. thomas that is adjuster risk. we're now going to switch from one inspiration to another inspiration. and, stephanie, you're in a field, where just listening to the what training you've had in that field is really quite extraordinary. i don't think there is a person better prepared for dealing with a field that is so almost as bad as the economic profession, so of affected by people who have, who have political or, you know, views of it, which, many people
don't like to be confused by the facts. so i wonder if you can talk about some of the you know the challenges of dealing in this highly politically-charged field and, making people understand things and in analytical way. >> sure. as, mentioned earlier i work for noaa, the national ocean schick atmospheric administration. with one good thing working for know noaa, we are not the epa. we have little regulatory role outside of fisheries. i don't work in that field as much. i think it is really important that the united states continue from a government organizational perspective that the science agency doing a lot of the work to understand how our climate is changing, why it is changing and impacts of those changes is separate from the discussion about what to do with that
information. so science has a seat at the table, whether you're republican or democrat or a moderate, the information that those different political parties work with should be the same. now what they choose to do with that information can vary greatly. they may have different economic models that they trust. they may have different values, what they think is important to society. they may have different beliefs on the best way to grow our economy. understanding what things may or may not hurt our economy. i think we heard, you know, it is not universally accepted austerity measures are good or bad. so science i think, particularly for climate change it is important they are at the table. it is important we continue to do research and continue to advance our understanding of the science but science is also one piece of information that our society is going to have when it comes to making decisions about what it do about climate change. and that discussion is one that is, it is important that we all engage in.
and, that we look at the information that we have and not try and disparage it or twist it because we want a particular outcome but deal with it very frankly and acknowledge that the information can say one thing and people can have different responses about what the right thing to do, with that information is. you don't change the fact that climate change is happening, that our planet is warming. we are experiencing consequences and the extent to which we understand those consequences obviously there is, the jury is out in some of those areas and we have more confidence in some areas than others but, the, it can be very challenging when people on both sides try and make either more or less out of the data than is really there. i think that, it's not as simple as saying that this is something just environmentalists do or just republicans or conservatives do. i think it's a trend in the
economics. it's a trend in the physical sciences and social sciences where you have your desired outcome first and then you either pick the data that you want or you ignore the data that you don't want or disparage the data that you don't like. i think regardless of what field you're in, that's of course has big implications for society. austerity measures, has huge implication for us. the tax that is we pay to, how that money gets spent and, for climate change, the, because there's a real and present issue with the plan net warming, what we decide to do about it as a society has, again, huge implication for us. >> so let me drill down a little more on this issue of extreme weather. you're making the point at this point we don't know? >> so i would say one piece i would make sure it is clear when i say extreme weather i'm
talking about in aggregate different types of physical, meteorological phenomenon, heat waves, tornadoes, hurricanes. those are all extreme weather events of the degree which we have certainty the way which climate change is impacting those extremes really differs based on the extreme. doctors have better understanding of certain types of cancers over others and you don't think of cancer one huge thing we have one generic answer to, extreme weather events are the same. for things like extreme precipitation and extreme heat events the confidence level is much greater. we're much more confident that climate change has and is impacting events. for things like tornadoes and hurricanes it is much more difficult to say in large part because of observational record we have. storm surge, another example where we know sea level has risen and we have really good confidence that the sea level is rising because as water warms it expand, law of physics.
and as glaciers and begin to melt, they're putting more water into the ocean. in the future we expect the melt from greenland ice sheets and other areas to also impact sea level rise of the so, what does that mean if it means when you have storms the amount of water that can get pushed on to land is increased. we call those storm surge events. we know that the storm surge is increasing. now how are the patterns of the actual storms changing? we don't have a really good handle on that yet but we know that storm surge is increasing. there are extremes which we have more knowledge and extremes for which we have less knowledge. >> so something like hurricane sandy is an event, a hurricane, an extreme event. >> right. >> not necessarily related to global warming but the fact that it is so extreme, the fact there is this surge could well be a global warming phenomenon? >> yeah so a group from noaa looked at this and look the at
tide gauge stations at battery along long island and eastern shore where hurricane sandy hit. they weren't looking at hurricane itself but look at storm surge. it did show because of rise in global sea level there has been increased in likelihood of that high storm surge. and so, you know that is, those again are areas where our scientists can come forward say something about individual extreme event, say something about the actual hurricane sandy i think is more challenging. >> right. i was, i'm from rhode island and there was something called the 1938 hurricane and people, you know, through all my youth, people talked about the 1938 hurricane. in providence, rhode island, 10 feet of water. the whole downtown was underwater. i don't think we've seen anything since but you point you can't talk about an individual event. you have to talk about how many su